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-  Genre: 'Dance' -  Release Date: '23rd April 2010'-  Catalogue No: 'EBM018'

Our Rating:
Markscheider Kunst are a Russian band from St Petersburg with a German name which can be translated as "the art of discerning frontiers" or "colliery surveyor art" depending on who you trust.

The first sounds more exotic while the latter seems more accurate especially given that the band members were geology students who met during a mine surveyor's course in the early nineties.

The band apparently began life playing r'n'b and rockabilly but somewhere along the line converted to the salsa ska-reggae style that underpins this, their fifth album. The addition of a brass section in 2000 would appear to mark a turning point.

The emphasis is on upbeat danceability designed to put a smile on your face and a spring in your step.

As if to compensate for time spent underground and the drab Russian climate their own utopia draws upon ethnic influences from sunnier climes, notably styles deriving from Brazil, Cuba and The Caribbean.

There is fast and furious Cumbia Jazz on DJ, plenty of brassed-up salsa grooves, sultry waltzes and gypsy style rhythms and you even get a snatch of 'Strangers in the Night' on Ku.

On top of the ten album tracks all sung in Russian there are two bonus instrumentals: a waltz from an interesting sounding Russian movie Kislorod (Oxygen) and a dub remix of Odnazhdy.

If they are all over the map geographically you get an idea where they are coming from sonically speaking when you learn that they have played support to Manu Chao, performed at WOMEX and won the approval of Charlie Gillet.

As musicians they are no slouches and while they play with tongues in cheeks this is all in the quest for serious fun.

There is no doubt that this kind of music is best heard in a live setting but this album does a good job of catching some of the manic energy of the group.

For the novelty value alone it's worth checking out.
  author: Martin Raybould

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